The Chief Officer and I left Atlanta yesterday afternoon to fly to San Jose Costa Rica. The Chief Engineer had an earlier flight and we caught up with him at the hotel. Hotelmanager and S.E.H officer are joining later in the cruise as they had some additional training to do. The normal procedure is if you join in Puerto Caldera is to fly in to the capital San Jose and then drive down to the port the next morning. San Jose is located high up in the mountains and the drive to the port is mainly downhill. Living up the mountains makes for cooler temperatures but as the capital is surrounded by mountains, they have their issues with smog and also with heavy rains. About 10 years ago I drove to the port and as reported before it was an interesting experience. Going downhill on a small road with a driver who thinks he is training for the Grand Prix of Monaco, makes one pay attention. Great was our surprise this time that the road had been upgraded to a Toll way and has 3 or four lanes in certain areas. This cuts the journey down from 3 to 2 hours but our driver managed to do it in 1h and 15 minutes. Although the road is now very nice, it has still its challenges as it has been cut straight to the mountains. With very steep cuts and very little has been done to stop avalanches which continuously happen especially in the rainy season. We passed two of those fresh mud and rock slides and the rocks were quite a bit bigger then our minivan. Maybe this is the logic of these fast cab drivers, if you go faster than there might be less of a chance to get hit by one of those boulders.

We arrived unharmed at the port to see that the Statendam was happily sitting alongside. The dock can be exposed to large ground swells and then it can be so uncomfortable or dangerous (with snapping ropes and moving gangways) that the ship has to go at anchor. But it was a quiet day today. Ahead of us was a bulk carrier discharging grain but as the little breeze was blowing away from the Statendam, the dust from the discharging process did not come our way. Handover was a quick and easy affair, not much can change in seven days, and by noon time I had my ship back again. Capt., CO and CE will now make the return trip, up the mountain, and then fly to Atlanta for their conference. All of them are going on leave afterwards. Our departure from this port is set for 1400 hrs. and that meant that the tours returned just on time. While pulling out of the port, the pilot was happily watching from the pilot boat. He was getting paid anyway and by not boarding he could directly go to a container ship at anchor that was impatiently waiting to take our docking spot. By the time I was passing the breakwater, the containership was already on its way in. Also for these ships, time is money and it must be very irritating to lose your docking space to a suddenly appearing cruise ship. In larger ports where there are dedicated cruise terminals it is not an easy but in these cargo ports it is a different matter.

Our next port is Huatalco de Santa Cruz, the day after tomorrow. Tomorrow we will be at sea and we will have to sail through the Gulfo de Tehantepec which might be a breezy affair again, as the winds have been predominantly from the north recently. That means that there is a fair chance for this funnel wind to be blowing again. Still northerly winds mean calm waters in Huatalco and that is important as well. On the way out we saw our first whales of the season, mother and calf, which was a bit surprising as most whales are still cavorting in Alaska and are only now starting the journey down. It will be awhile before they are all here again.

Tomorrow should be a quiet sea day, with a fair chance of rain, and then during the night we might get a bit of wind for a few hours.